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Ibon: the innovative suitcase for next generation travelers


Design a suitcase for the next generation traveler

Samsonite, the world leader in luggage products, and Achilles Design worked together on this innovation project. This collaboration boosted the company's continuous research of conceptual product solutions for the next generation traveler. Together we further developed and styled this new design, resulting in the Ibon suitcase.

The Ibon is the end result of a forward- thinking design effort between Samsonite and Achilles Design with a strong focus on usability and convenience. The suitcase is a newtype of luggage designed from the inside out, and built around stacks of clothing. It is tailored to the trend of slow travel, where the journey is just as important as the destination.

Samsonite Ibon features walk-through
Key innovations

Suitcase with first-of-its-kind features

The biggest and most distinctive features of Ibon are the transversal split and the central one-point closure system. These two features result in a fast and easy access while traveling. With numerous first-of-its-kind features, the Ibon creates new packing and travel routines:  
  • The transversal split is a true space saver when opening the suitcase and doesn’t compromise on interior capacity. The telescopic handle is integrated in the hinge, and is not in the way when packing.
  • The central one-point closure system allows for fast and easy access, moving away from multiple latches and long zipper paths. The built-in TSA lock features a latching mechanism to close the suitcase in one swift motion.
  • The patented interior compression system ensures a secure luggage retention on both sides of the suitcase. It also creates additional packing capacity, compared to traditional systems.
  • The central interior carry handle offers mobility during packing, allowing you to carry the opened suitcase from one room to the other, even through narrow doorways.
  • Dual handles on the corners and sides allow for ergonomic movement of the suitcase: walking up or down the stairs, lifting into a car boot, opening and closing.
Ibon offers easy and continuous access to your belongings while traveling. Making it the ideal travel companion for road trips, possibly combined with a flight and/or train travel (multimodal transport).

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Inspiring suppliers to innovate basketball


FIBA and the need for innovation in basketball

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) governs the game of basketball worldwide. FIBA has the mission to increase the importance of this beautiful game. To do so, the federation understands that it’s key to continuously innovate basketball. To strengthen the business of basketball, we must think of new value propositions for basketball equipment, innovative business models and service designs.


Collaborations with members of the FIBA network is critical to boost the value of basketball. That’s why FIBA wants these venue suppliers and manufacturers of basketball equipment to be inspired. They must feel empowered to work on innovative basketball products and services. Enter Achilles Design. FIBA asked our innovation consultant (Per Mans) as a public speaker to inspire and guide the members of this partner network.


The focus of our talk had to be on persuading and onboarding the FIBA network. We had to make these companies enthusiastic about the many possibilities to innovate their own product designs, their service designs and their business models.


Getting the FIBA audience on board

First we had to understand our audience. We’re talking about hundreds of companies from around the globe, coming together for a virtual innovation event. Many companies are also competitors from one another. That means they would not be as open as we’d like to share thoughts and innovative ideas. So we were challenged to keep our audience engaged with very few interactions - just a few live polls during our talk.


We started off with a high-energy video on sports innovation trends that we’ve created to shake up our audience. Only then we started the actual presentation. In our slides we could have just summed up and illustrated the many innovation opportunities for basketballs, flooring, hoops, fan engagement, training wearables ... But that would become boring fast. Bye bye innovation appetite.


To keep our diverse audience engaged we told the story of a fictional character named Emma. Using design thinking and storytelling techniques, we follow her from a very young age, through her entire basketball career until she retires from playing and adopts supporting and management roles. In all chapters of her life she approaches the game differently, with new user needs and desires. Each chapter allowed us to talk about different value propositions and innovation areas to consider. This format proved to be extremely engaging and empowering to our audience.

The result
From the FIBA headquarters in Geneva, the virtual live event was casted to all the suppliers and manufacturers around the world. Per, one of our innovation consultants got on stage and told the story of Emma. Through the story he touched upon the many innovation possibilities that could give Emma a better user experience. In just 90 minutes, each participant has felt the need to innovate and took this can-do attitude back to their companies, along with a set of  disruptive ideas to pitch in front of their managers. We're curious to see the next innovations they'll launch!

Curious about the live event? Then take a look at the recap video.


A strong lifestyle brand in drink and food ware


Keep Kambukka leader in trendy lifestyle drink and foodware

Not only did Kambukka hire us to develop trendy drinking solutions for people on the go, they also asked us to create new and trendy lifestyle prints that appeal to people with different personalities and tastes all over the world.
How we watch trends
It is a continuous part of our job to keep an eye on current innovations and trends in general. As such, we closely watch which colour and material trends are on vogue in the fashion world. This expertise helped us to develop a progressive trend palette for the new collections of Kambukka with their own design.
As soon as we have a good understanding of relevant market trends, we create various mood boards around multiple themes. These themes help us to determine the most appropriate design choices.

Implementation in a project

We developed a comprehensive trend model that gives Kambukka an ecosystem of all active macro trends and trends per relevant market. This model makes mutual coherence visible, while allowing to zoom in further on a particular trend. As a consequence, we were able to develop creative and innovative prints from different angles that meet their market and are consistent with the brand.
The result
A family of bottles with various funcionalities that look fresh, tasteful and that fits the taste of the time and which is liked by young and old. Nice to drink, nice to look at.
A pattern is more than a drawing. As a brand it is important to look for your own identity, also when choosing prints. What feeling do you want to radiate, and do you tirelessly follow the trends or do you look for your own language? Achilles was a great support on this journey. Together we created prints, patterns and colors that are completely Kambukka. The interaction between Achilles, our team, and our brand was important to obtain the end result that we have today.

Sabrina Ruzzi

Marketing Manager Kambukka


Setting up an innovation portfolio for Kambukka


How do we keep re-inventing the products we are known for?

How do we keep pushing the boundaries in this ever growing market of reusable drinkware and foodware? That is the challenge that was given to us by Kambukka, a forward-thinking company known for high-quality drinking bottles.
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Creating a innovation framework to continuously produce and manage a bulk of ideas
We didn't want to deliver a one-off batch of ideas, but decided to build and deliver an innovation framework that enabled the client to continuously output new directions for tomorrow. It should be possible to quickly assess trends, devise new market segments and product categories, and translate them into fully defined product concepts. Our framework should also come pre-filled with exciting concepts of our own, to kickstart the process.
Framework design
We started out with establishing the different strategic options that can be considered when it comes to corporate innovation. The new brand needed the right tools to strenghten their current position and product portfolio. Therefore we emphasized the discovery and valuation of new products and product features for their current categories. We identified and explored two opportunity areas: the functions the brand could offer the consumer and the different usage motivations they could adress.
Impactful ideation
Bringing together product functions and user motivations created clear problem spaces, that enabled our team to perform an ideation to pre-fill our framework work with exciting product and product features. The method allowed for non-obvious, differentiating new ideas to support lifestyles and rituals, new ways of serving, organizing the storage or even the preparation of drinks.
Product definition & decision making
Our method easily produced hundreds of valuable ideas. We supported our client in decision making by creating a trade-off system that valued and scored each individual idea. New product definitions could be made by intelligently combining high-performing features. These product and service candidates were then conceptualized and assessed for their ability to excite the user, compete in the market and economic potential.
During this two-week process, we provided the client with a framework that already produced +100 fresh ideas. To this date, several of these products and features are being rolled out into product development. The framework now enables the client to produce, log and manage their ideas on several levels, with minimal effort.
Found the need to refresh your innovation portfolio and interested in setting up a similiar program? Get in touch with the experts!


Cleaning polluted air with moss


A modular moss panel that removes PM from the air

BESIX Group, the largest Belgian multidisciplinary construction group, joins the battle against air pollution in urban environments. Academic research indicates a high potential for natural moss to remove PM (particulate matter) from polluted air. BESIX Group contacted Achilles to work out a solution that takes advantage of this promising natural phenomenon. A modular system consisting of active panels was conceived which can be installed on wall next to congested roads, tunnel exits, construction sites,…
After testing a variety of irrigation and ventilation principles, Achilles Design created the system layout, designed the product and engineered the complete system. For a pilot project, several panel modules were assembled in-house and installed at a construction site in Leiden.
System architecture

Creating the optimal climate for the moss.

Only if the moss is kept in good shape, its full air-filtering potential can be unlocked. Elaborate experimenting and testing identified the optimal substrate, irrigation and ventilation. During this process Achilles Design converted the academic knowledge into a practical biosystem solution.

Building a system around the moss

The overall system architecture has a major impact, not only regarding the product cost but also with respect to performance, the ease of maintenance, modularity, durability, etc. That’s why we systematically considered different approaches of subsystem decentralization, component layouts and materialization.
Pilot project

Bringing ideas to a real life situation.

Quite early in the development, we had the opportunity to build an actual first pilot project in Leiden. The short timeframe forced us to make quick decisions and immediately bring ideas to reality, combining off-the-shelf solutions with a first production batch.
Digital design

Natural moss with IoT technology

The moss wall is packed with sensors to monitor all relevant parameters: the humidity of the moss, the PM concentration of incoming (= polluted) and outgoing (= filtered) air, temperature, etc. Through an online platform, we were able to manage irrigation and ventilation regimes and monitor the effect on the performance of the moss wall.
The result
The first pilot project with 45m² of moss is up and running. Close monitoring of the moss itself and the measurement of PM concentration will provide us with valuable information to optimize the design for future industrial upscaling. This project was subsidized by the Brussels-Capital Region Innoviris.


Triggering office-wide trend buzz by redesigning the reporting style


Turning factual research results into a broadly appealing report

Creating an information-dense, easy to understand reporting style for trends that invites everyone to start reading.
Colruyt Group has asked our support in creating a trend reporting style that will encourage staff to repeatedly consult and value the content. The reporting style must become a way to get people within the Group energized and inspired when talking about trends. That’s all to trigger new internal innovation projects.

Understanding the theory to create visual clarity

The trend research team at Colruyt Group works hard on creating high-quality content, and the true value of this content should reach as many colleagues as possible in an engaging way. That’s why our graphic designers firstly had to profoundly understand the trend watching methodology that Colruyt Group applies. Our graphic designers then translate this methodology into clear illustrations that make it easy for generalists to gain a deep insight on the way how certain facts relate to certain trends.

In a digital age, don’t underestimate the power of print

A high-quality, inviting-to-read printed book that lies around the office is key to the success of this project. The physical presence of these books makes all people within the organization aware of the importance of inspiring and relevant trends for the Group. After a casual read, people can continue reading digitally, but it is actually also important to have it printed such that trend watching gets a positive presence across the office.
The idea is to regularly publish new trend reports – both updates on the same topic and on new topics. The new reports will all be built on the same graphic template to streamline and speed up the publishing process.

Lay-out that breathes relevance for the Group

Typefaces, illustration styles and the color palette all fit the style of Colruyt Group because the document needed to breathe relevance for the Group. We used a composition of white space and photography very consciously to make all content feel generally understandable. Graphic elements were given distinct colors; shapes and sizes to facilitate navigation through the document and illustrations are highly informative while remaining simple enough for the report to keep the reading experience light.
The result
Because the content is conveyed in such a pleasant and appealing way, more people get enthusiastic about current trends, leading to more engagement towards innovation. The goal is to now keep on creating new trend reports through the same engaging reporting language as the first report we did for Colruyt Group.
Thank you for reworking the trend report! We’re all very enthusiastic about it! Fresh and positive design, really invites to read! Top!

Fiona Ketele

Trendwatcher for Colruyt Group


Designing a 24/7 store concept


A store that fits the life of busy people, 24/7

Creating a retail concept, targeted at young people who live in or commute through city centers, that supports unplanned shopping missions and facilitates having tasty and balanced meals for the next 24 hours. In 2015, Colruyt Group approached us to develop an idea that was launched by a visionary employee. After helping with tuning the briefing, the challenge was to create a concept that would strengthen the position of the retailer in city centers, to attract new audience and provide an answer to changing shopper motivations, habits and preferences, such as seeking 24/7 instant fulfilment.
We designed all the components and touchpoints of a modern retail concept: the offering, the space and its services in and beyond the physical location. Other than that, we also did the foundations of the product assortment and the means to quickly find instant fulfilment in that assortment by designing a visual identity, a concept for interior and functional furniture and an app concept.

Getting the briefing right

We helped in developing the initial idea by exploring and generating the mission and vision of the retail concept, analyzing and defining its target audience and stakeholders, and finally translating it into challenges that had to be solved.

Designing an identity

Developing a strong identity is a cornerstone in delivering new commercial concepts, as it should immediately reflect what value the consumer can expect. To facilitate conceptualization of services, products, architecture and interiors, we first created an identity that matched the lifestyle of the audience. After interviewing and analyzing how the target audience chooses to spend their time to shop and to dine, we envisioned experiences in storyboards that explained the newly designed journeys. From these service scenarios, we designed all the components and touchpoints of a modern retail concept: the offering, the space and its services in and beyond the physical location. We designed the foundations of the product assortment and the means to quickly find instant fulfilment in that assortment by designing a visual identity, a concept for the interior and furniture and an app concept.

Familiarizing stakeholders with the concept

Prior to discussing the concept, we needed to enable stakeholders to quickly empathize with the target audience. With short presentation slots in mind, a short movie depicting the lives of the target audience was created. The journeys and different concepts were illustrated in detail to make sure the experience was communicated well. To make sure the visceral elements such as light & color recipes were simulated realistically, we built a miniature physical model with working lighting and service details.

A store that adapts it’s experience to the time of day

The retail concept is a small convenience store that blurs the lines between retail and gastronomy, and will be located near busy places, such as railway stations or city centers. It will be open 24/7. We chose to build an identity around ‘appearance recipes’: adapting the total experience to the time of day by changing the lighting, color, store interior & lay-out and assortment and really convey the atmosphere of mornings, lunches, dinner and nighttime consumption.
Visitors of the store who are looking for a quick solution can significantly reduce the hassle of choice and their time in-store by picking from a central “moments-counter”: a piece of furniture that has an assortment for each moment during the day. The counter will be re-oriented during the day, so that a relevant offer is always in the closest proximity of the checkout. Reorienting the counter will also change the appearance of the store: the total experience is altered by a change in lighting, messages displayed on the screens, such as weather forecast that day or local evening events to attend, etc..
The assortment is organized around these times with emphasis on facilitating choice and reducing time in preparation without compromising quality. To be able to pull this off, common items are supplemented with a private label. For each moment, there are ready to heat/eat items as well as inspirational menus with curated self-serve ingredient counters. To be able to match the lifestyle of the target audience, digital services and an app integrate into the experience by providing features that support the journeys: messaging about products, reserving breakfast pick-ups, notifying about new menu’s that match food preferences of couples and groups, offering traffic and commuting insights, etc.
The result
The result is an integral convenience store concept that matches with the busy lives of its target audiences, integrates the digital realm and offers relief for those who have trouble in holding on to routine in shopping, deciding what to eat today or tomorrow, or need something in a moment’s notice.